Alton, VA – Venezuelan driver Robert La Rocca set the fastest lap during testing for the F2000 Championship Series opener at VIRginia International Raceway this weekend. La Rocca, driving for HP-Tech, clocked in at 1:54.701 in HP-Tech’s No. 10 Van Diemen, switching over from the RFR chassis he has previously ran. F1600 graduate Wyatt Gooden was second fastest for Quantum Racing Services.
Gooden picked up where he left off the F1600 Formula F Championship Series last year, on the top of the time sheets in the morning session, although this time it was in a F2000 car. Gooden paced the opening session of the day in the No. 6 Van Diemen for Quantum Racing Services and said that the team worked on the VIR setup during a recent test at Hallet.
“We are still learning what the car needs aero wise and mechanical wise,” commented Gooden, who won all four F1600 races he started in 2011 for Quantum.
The track was fastest during the second session, before temperatures started to spike.
La Rocca’s chassis switch took the paddock by surprise, and also included a very similar aero package to that of 2011 Champion Remy Audette.
La Rocca led Gooden on the time charts in the second test session, but those two were followed by Fabio Orsolon in the Radon chassis’ best performance to date.
“I’m surprised how good we are,” said the Brazilian. “The car setup still needs a bit of work and there is more left in me too.”
Niki Coello was fourth fastest and first of the RFRs, followed closely by Tim Paul in the No. 06 Van Diemen for SMR/GTP Motorsports.
“We are looking for front-end grip,” Paul said. “The track got slippery when it warmed up.”
Last year’s VIR winner, Nathan Morcom, followed behind Paul in a newly painted orange and white No. 11 RFR chassis, and then it was Mark Defer in seventh and rookie Kevin Kopp in eighth.
Kopp is making his first F2000 start, moving up from MX-5 Cup in addition to years of karting experience, in the No. 66 for WISKO Race Engineering.
Brent Gilkes and Tim Minor rounded out the top ten.
“So far, so good,” said Minor, who is contesting his first weekend in his new Citation chassis. “We are not far off where we were in the Van Diemen last year and we are making changes every session.”
Sophomore driver Kyle Connery, who won six races last year, was largely off the top of the time sheets as his CC Autosport crew battled through electrical gremlins on their new RFR, but peaked to third quick in a slower session at the end of the day.
Title contender Chris Livengood also kept a low profile in the John Walko Racing No. 37, picking up speed as he continues to get used to the new chassis, which was delivered from England just last week.
Front Range’s Zach Craigo found speed on a hot race track later in the day too, turning in the fifth fastest time in the last session on Thursday in the No. 18 Van Diemen.
Full results can be viewed on www.F2000Series.com under the “Results” tab.
The weekend continues on Friday with official practice sessions while both Saturday and Sunday see a morning qualifying session followed by an afternoon race. Live audio, commentary, photos and more are available on www.F2000Series.com.